It was the penultimate day before Near Years’ Eve and people had already started posting their greetings and comments on Facebook: “Happy new year!” “A few hours till 2014” and “What a terrible year this has been!” someone moaned. Others were posting advertisements encouraging people to listen to a radio programme hosting an astrologer. Presumably he would try to answer their questions about what lies ahead… Yeah right! Well, who really knows the future, but God?
I marvel at the many people who are keen to know what will happen in the days to come. Jesus asks rhetorically: “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27) As human beings we are indeed curious (I know I am!) and eager to “know it all”. But God’s ways always rein us back to trusting in Him; to put our confidence in Him and in nothing else.
As I write this from the little town of Bethlehem where the star shone two thousand years ago leading the Wise Men to Jesus, I am reminded that although we do not know what will happen tomorrow, the Word of God does promise us one thing. The book of Daniel 12:3 gives a guarantee: “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”
Now what else do we need: an astrologer? a fortune teller with a reading from the remains in a cup of coffee? (Some people take even that seriously!) What is it that we follow in our lives: Jesus, the one and only sage, or our own desires and expectations?
A couple of days ago, I was walking in one of the narrow streets of Bethlehem and saw massive crowds of people at a funeral. She was only 27, a mother of two, and had lost her battle with cancer. It was so sad – a gloomy, perplexing, tearful gathering. I remember her only vaguely from school, but as I think about her children, her husband, her parents, my heart aches for their loss.
Stories of life, like hers, happen on a daily basis everywhere in the world. And, sad as they are, they should encourage each of us to put our faith in our living God and nothing else, neither man nor possessions, for everything , everything, including heaven and earth will pass away. The truth that James spoke of two thousand years ago still stands: “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)
So what are my hopes and dreams for this year? To become rich and famous? By no means! For myself, surely an increased faith in the Lord, and an increased commitment to His work, to become wiser in Him, to love Him more with all my heart, mind and soul. And for my town and people, that Jesus will be known in every family, that Christ will be glorified in our churches, schools, universities…
The festive decorations of Christmas are still shining in Bethlehem, the tree is still lit, Santa Clauses are wandering the streets, but soon the season will be over. Will we remember to keep Christ as the guiding star of our life? Will we remember the importance to lead others to Him? For first and foremost, this is why we are here! With the author of Psalm 90, may we pray “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”